EXPERTS have warned that a common ingredient found in chewing gum and mayonnaise could trigger deadly bowel cancer.
Researchers claim that food additive titanium dioxide, which appears as E171 on labels, can have a harmful affect on the gut’s natural bacteria.
The team from the University of Sydney carried out a study on mice and found that eating food containing the whitening ingredient could impair some of the gut’s functions.
Their findings, published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition, suggested that consuming E171 could trigger inflammatory bowel diseases and even cancer.
Titanium dioxide is commonly used in high quantities in more than 900 food products, as well as in toothpaste, paint and sunscreen to make it white.
Its usage in foods, medicines and clothing has increased considerably in the last decade, despite insufficient evidence about its safety.
Linked to other conditions
Exposure to nanoparticles has previously been linked to dementia, auto-immune disease, eczema, asthma, autism and increasing the spread of cancer.
Last month, France announced titanium dioxide would be banned from products as of next year following a 2017 review into the additive.
Government officials in Britain said at the time that E171 is “not of concern” and there is “no UK ban planned”.
Consumption of food containing titanium dioxide affects gut microbiota, which could lead to inflammatory bowel diseases and colorectal cancer
Associate Professor Wojciech Chrzanowski
Co-lead author Associate Professor Wojciech Chrzanowski, a nanotoxicology expert at the University of Sydney, said: “It is well established that dietary composition has an impact on physiology and health, yet the role of food additives is poorly understood.
“There is increasing evidence that continuous exposure to nanoparticles has an impact on gut microbiota composition, and since gut microbiota is a gate keeper of our health, any changes to its function have an influence on overall health.
“This study presents pivotal evidence that consumption of food containing food additive E171 (titanium dioxide) affects gut microbiota as well as inflammation in the gut, which could lead to diseases such as inflammatory bowel diseases and colorectal cancer.”
‘Impairs gut function’
Co-lead author Associate Professor Laurence Macia, from the University of Sydney, added: “Our research showed that titanium dioxide interacts with bacteria in the gut and impairs some of their functions which may result in the development of diseases.
“This study investigated effects of titanium dioxide on gut health in mice and found that titanium dioxide did not change the composition of gut microbiota, but instead it affected bacteria activity and promoted their growth in a form of undesired biofilm.
“Biofilms are bacteria that stick together and the formation of biofilm has been reported in diseases such as colorectal cancer.”
MORE ON BOWEL CANCER
Dr Macia recommended that consumption of the additive should be better regulated by food authorities.
Bowel cancer is the second deadliest form of the disease in the UK, claiming 16,000 lives a year, but it can be cured.
Early diagnosis is key, which is why The Sun launched the No Time 2 Lose campaign – to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of the disease, to empower everyone to check themselves.
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